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Rhodesian Airforce:
Rhodesian Air Force (1970-1980)

Flag of the Rhodesian Air ForceDuring the "Emergency" the air force consisted of no more than 2,300 personnel and of those only 150 were pilots. These pilots were qualified to fly all the aircraft within the air force so were often involved in combat missions. In addition, they were rotated through the various units so as to give rest to the airmen who would otherwise be constantly on active service.

In March 1970, when Rhodesia declared itself a republic, the prefix "Royal" was dropped and the Service's name became the Rhodesian Air Force (RhAF). A new roundel was adopted in the new Rhodesian colours of green and white containing a lion (in gold) and tusk in the centre of the white. The new air force ensign was taken into use on 5 April 1970. The new flag contained the Rhodesian flag in the canton with the roundel in the fly on a light blue field. This marking was displayed in the usual six positions, together with a green/white/green fin flash with a narrow white stripe as in RAF type C.

During the 1970s bush war, Rhodesia managed to obtain Rheims-Cessna 337 (known in Rhodesia as the Lynx), and SIAI Machetti SF260 (known in Rhodesia as the Genet or Warrior - two versions, trainer and ground-attack) piston engined aircraft, Bell 204 Iroquois (from Israel), and additional Aérospatiale Alouette III helicopters via covert means, but proved unsuccessful in obtaining jet aircraft (except for some Vampires FB9 and T11 aircraft from South Africa). An order for CT/4 trainers was embargoed by the New Zealand government

Drawing upon counter-insurgency experience gained in the Second World War, the Malayan Emergency and the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya, and adapting more recent Israeli, South African and Portuguese tactics, Rhodesian combined operations (police Special Branch, army, air force) developed ‘pseudo-guerrillas’, such as the Mozambican National Resistance, (RENAMO) that wreaked havoc across the border, where Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) guerrilla camps were razed by ‘Fireforce’ cross-border raids. Fireforce comprised units of Selous Scouts, an undercover tracker battalion of 1,500 troops on double pay, 80 percent black, (many recruited by Special Branch from captured guerrillas facing trial and execution) probing ahead of a parachute infantry battalion and up to 200 Special Air Service commandos. These forces were supported, in turn, by armoured transport columns, mobile field artillery, equestrian pursuit dragoons, (Grey's Scouts) air force helicopter gunships and bomber squadrons, one newly-equipped with 20 French-made Cessna Lynx low-altitude surveillance aircraft modified for precision ground attacks. Fireforce gathered intelligence, disrupted guerrilla forces, seized equipment and is identified frequently as a precursor of new forms of counterinsurgency warfare. The United Nations condemned the Fireforce raids, especially the use of napalm, but evidence confirming or disproving the utilisation of Rhodesian biological weapons remains inconclusive.[8]

Order of battle

No. 1 Squadron - Thornhill (12 x Hawker Hunter FGA.9)
No. 2 Squadron - Thornhill (8 x Vampire FB.9; 8 x Vampire T.55; plus 13 x Vampire FB.52 on loan from South Africa)
No. 3 Squadron - New Sarum (13 x Douglas C-47; 1 x Cessna 402; 6 x BN-2A Islander; 1 x DC-7C; 1 x Baron)
No. 4 Squadron - Thornhill (11 x AL-60F5 Trojan; 21 x Reims-Cessna FTB.337G; 14 x SF.260W)
No. 5 Squadron - New Sarum (8 x EE Canberra B.2; 2 x EE Canberra T.4)
No. 6 Squadron - Thornhill (13 x Percival Provost T.52; 17 x SF.260C)
No. 7 Squadron - New Sarum (6 x Alouette II; 34 x Alouette III)
No. 8 Squadron - New Sarum (11 x AB.205)
The Rhodesian Light Infantry Regimental
Assocation of Australasia